A breakthrough in cancer research, self-renewing cells in the heart, new fundamental insights into how mammals perceive vibrations or temperature – it would be easy to omit an essential detail from such important findings, or to euphemistically describe them as “in vivo experiments.” But here at the MDC, we purposefully avoid such formulations. We communicate openly and transparently whenever this knowledge is even partially based on animal experiments. We also explain why these experiments are necessary. In our newsroom, for example, we list articles that deal specifically with the topic of animal testing under the so that they are easy to find.
A matter of attitude
For us, proactive communication about animal testing and the 3R principles is an ethos to which we remain true. Our goal with this transparency is to provide facts and thus enable objective debate, but also to face any critique head on. This includes inviting journalists to our animal facilities, answering questions from students, organizing roundtable discussions with politicians, holding panel discussions for the public, publishing statistics, and much more. This way, we promote a dialogue between science and society and contribute to a better understanding of scientific processes.
We are not alone in our efforts to promote communication and education on animal experiments and on the 3Rs in research. The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany, for example, leads the project “Tierversuche verstehen” (Understanding Animal Research), which also aims to promote a more objective discussion about the reasons behind, benefits of, and alternatives to animal research. Aimed at the general public and the media, the initiative connects news organizations and other interested groups with experts, facilitates dialogue and discussion, and provides a wide array of informative material via its website. The MDC contributes to this work as an institution of the Helmholtz Association, which is a member of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany.
The MDC is also a member of the European Animal Research Association (EARA), which is committed to better informing the public about animal research. Other member organizations in Germany include the Max Planck Society.
In Berlin we also have many partners who share our goals: